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A night in a caravan in El Chalten
For our second night in El Chalten, an evening of thunderstorms with strong gusts was planned. So, we decided to privilege another kind of accommodation adapted to our budget rather than our tents. After looking the different rent options, we finally opted for a nice caravan, with a vintage style, parked between two houses and attached to the ground with buntings (which reassured us when we arrived).
Once installed in our humble abode, we were getting prepared to face up to the wind starting to blow. We went to the small supermarket of the village to find some snacks for this evening which promises to be unforgettable. Beers, saucisson and cheeses for a meal comparable to a celebrating day! The caravan will dance at the same rhythm as the gusts during the evening and a part of the night.
When we woke up, we organised our life in the 7m2 of the living room: maté for the breakfast, plus a shower after another one in the tiny bathroom before to go out and to go back on the road towards South.
Running early in the morning on the beach of Rada Tilly
The beach of Rada Tilly is a nice area long of about 4 kilometres. Surrounded by the ocean at the East and the seawall of this seaside city at the West. During this summery period, it was highly frequented until the sunset. The footballs, named here “Pelota”, were in every corner of the beach. Going between the foot of the young people who were playing spectacular “tennis-football” matches.
However at sunrise, the beach was only for the most courageous. The running session started from the gates of the campsite by a gentle stride to warm up. It was on beach, still humid from the last high tide while the sun was rising up, that the true running started. The running shoes were took off to enjoy the feeling of the sand between the toes. The first strides were heavy, the beach looked like a huge area of quicksand. But the feelings and the strides became lighter. At this early time of the day, two other people were running along the seawall. The itinerary being not very long, I crossed their path many times. The first time, being shy, everyone was looking their feet. The second time, our eyes met. The next times, it was like a game for not showing any signs of tiredness.
Before to go back to the campsite, it was time for a swim to recover. The water was fresh but the few lengths in this bay were enjoyable, like the breakfast waiting for me with my friends. The day could began in the best conditions!
A table football game on Las Grutas beach
During our stay in San Antonio Oeste, we spent an afternoon at the beach of “las piedras coloradas “ a few kilometers from our base camp. After a short walk, we shared a plate of seashells and octopus for the lunch at a beach hut.
With Julien, while waiting our dishes, we started a table football game, on the old table standing in front of the snack bar. The young waiter came closer hoping to be able to play with the winner. At the end, the game was more favorable for the Pouzauges football club than the Ploërmel football club after an honorable match (3-0).
During the following game between the “Céleste “ against “les Bleus”; each team scored several times, without being able to define with certitude a winner. It was firstly a friendly game but at the end, “les Bleus” scored the final goal for a free bottle of soda.
Once our dishes finished, and while waiting the rain to pass, we discussed about economic, politic and social situation of Argentina with the chef and the waiter. An interesting encounter as much for the match as for the discussion to end a nice afternoon by the sea.
Interviewed by the local radio in Coronel Pringles
After a morning on the road in the heat, we stopped for a lunch break in the shadow of the trees, in the town center of Coronel Pringles. Attracted by our vehicles, a woman came closer to us and started to ask questions about our travel. She introduced herself as journalist for a local radio/tv. Interested by our stories, she asked to a colleague to join us. At the first attempt, the colleague declined because he wanted to cover a crash with a truck on a road nearby. But it was without counting on her tenacity, she finally convinced him to come ASAP. “It’s not everyday that we have 4 French travellers with sidecars in our town… “. Once her colleague arrived, he promptly unloaded his equipment from the car and we were quickly starting talking in front of the camera, impressed by the situation. Each one of us had to improvise a speech in Spanish for replying to the questions from the journalist. A great experience! At the end of the afternoon, it was our finest time. The article was published on the website of “El diario de Pringles”; the beginning of the celebrity…
The carnival in Gualeguaychu
The carnival of Gualeguaychu is taking place at the beginning of each year, between January and March. It’s known as the “Carnaval del País”, as it’s the biggest of Argentina. It can welcome up to 40,000 people. It’s the second biggest carnival of South of America, the first one being the carnival of Rio. The “comparsas” (social centres or from the boroughs) of the city were parading each Saturday during the summery season with the frenzied music of the“batucadas” (troupes of percussionists). Each year, a theme is chosen by the comparsa. When they parade, there is first a couple of ambassadors showing off the flag with the club colours. They are in front of the singers whose the costumes can weight up to 80 kgs and contains 2,000 feathers ; and the floats whose the last one is the float of the “batucada”.
It was thanks to Ricardo and his family that we learned there were these festivities. So we slightly adapted our itinerary to arrive at the end of the week in this little city, at the Uruguayan border.
We rode in the streets of Gualeguaychu at the beginning of the afternoon, on the 22nd February. Nothing would show any signs that the city had big festivities. It was at the municipal campsite thank we received the first information about the carnival. We learned that to buy our tickets for tomorrow’s show, we needed to go to the “Pasarela del Corsodromo”, the place of the festivities which is a huge avenue surrounded by terraces.
Arriving by one of the extremities of this avenue, we went behind the terraces until we reached the old train station, in the middle of this artery, today being the “presidential” grandstand. On the right of the building, we sneaked in a small path to arrive at the center of the “Pasarela”. We were surrounded by the terraces. Our imagination was taking the control of our mind, we were dreaming about dancing in this alley with the percussions music.
At the other side of the old train station, the ticket office was bringing us back to the reality with a tough choice. Which seat we would like to have for the show? We followed the advice of the seller and opted for a seat in the heights, just after the presidential grandstand to enjoy the heart of the show at its best, at a sufficient heigh to enjoy the huge size of the floats. We went back to the campsite and needed to patient until the next day, with our mind full of dreams.
However, there was a violent thunderstorm over the city during the night, and when we woke up. Nothing huge, but it rained all along the day. The launch of the carnival was planned for 10pm. All along the day, we looked for information to know if the parade will take place or not. But it was only at 9pm, while rain and storm were back, that the organisation team of the festival announced the adjournment until the following day. Therefore we needed to stay an additional night in the small city of Gualeguaychu.
The day was again very humid, but nothing as cataclysmic as the previous days. After a busy day with a swim in the Rio and a barbecue, we sat down in the grandstands at 8pm. The start of the show was earlier. It was precisely at 9pm that we heard the first music notes of the drums, announcing the beginning of the parade of the first “Comparsa”. The atmosphere was very festive. The spectators were supporting each club, being louder when the colours they support were showing up. The costumes and the floats were beautiful, men and women were dancing and moving forward with the rhythm of the percussions whose the sounds look like a “samba”. The 3,000 singers surrounding the floats, paraded just under our eyes during almost three hours. It was with the stars in our eyes that we went back to the campsite, for an evening with the singers and drums who came to captivate our dreams. When we woke up, we went back on the road towards Uruguay, leaving Gualeguaychu behind us and its festivities which made the city very colourful in spite of the weather we had.